I’m reposting the following by my NPR colleague, David Julian Gray. It was originally posted on an internal blog, Technically Speaking. About a month ago, I reposted another essay of his on RadioDNS. --Dennis
At a technology presentation last year, which was sadly more interesting than the Major League ballgame used to lure me there, a vendor's Sr. VP asked what I thought of "cloud computing." I dismissively answered "You might as well ask me what I think of air! -- 'Cloud Computing' is just a convenient marketing term for remote applications and storage accessible over the Internet -- technologies which have been evolving for decades..." But this was too flip, I thought the trend toward so-called "cloud computing" so obvious I missed the forest for the trees -- or the clouds for the air ...
As it happens, I've been thinking a lot about "AIR" -- or better "The AIR" -- as broadcasters think about it -- that is, the Electromagnetic Spectrum or at least that part of it known as the "Radio Spectrum". I'm also thinking a lot about "The CLOUD" -- as the FCC appears to be thinking about it -- that is, the Radio Spectrum. "The AIR" is getting very cloudy these days -- as is the difference between the conglomeration of technologies, techniques, services and resources once known as "The Internet" and those once known as "broadcasting." As Vint Cerf, true daddy of the Internet and now Chief Evangelist for Google, is fond of saying: "IP on everything."
In my last entry in this space, I wrote about RadioDNS as a possible, I think ideal, bridging technology between traditional terrestrial broadcasting and mobile broadband platforms. To briefly recap, RadioDNS propose a collection of technologies to leverage the existing data already included in both standard analog and HD-Radio broadcasts to link to other services and content already and/or potentially provided by broadcasters to a variety WEB and mobile devices. In other words it merges "the broadcast cloud" with "the IP cloud".
As far as the FCC is concerned -- this cannot happen fast enough, but their approach is to annex "the broadcast cloud" and hand it over to those providing IP based services. That's what the conversion to digital TV was all about -- reminds me of old Hollywood's take on the Railroad's great land grab of the mid to late 19th Century -- you know the push to drive farmers off the land to make room for modern commerce. This is the great Radio Spectrum grab of the early 2010's, the push to drive broadcasters off the spectrum to make room for "Mobile Broadband"...puts an ominous spin on the exhortation to "Rule the Air."
But it needn't be ominous at all -- there are models of how providing information and content via an integrated set of radio spectrum based services blur any distinction between "broadcast" and "broadband". I'll get flip again and say it's a specious distinction after all. That seems clear to NBC and Comcast -- who have been trying to elope. One successful model we can point to of an integrated "broadcast/IP cloud" is in service to the Public Broadcasting community: the PRSS Content Depot.
"Radio Towers" aren't going away in five years or any time soon-- even if, or when, the FM band is yanked by some government agency and auctioned off to LTE or WiMAX providers -- for where will those LTE or WiMAX, etc. signals be coming from? "The Cloud" is just an expression ...
-djg (David Julian Gray, IS Sr Product Manager, Content Production